The Haunting

Bomb Rating: 

Maybe it's just me, but I was under the presumption that if a movie is titled "The Haunting," something in the thing will be frightening. Of course, this is a film from Jan De Bont, who directed "Speed 2," a movie that moved about as quickly as Charlie Sheen in a whorehouse. Perhaps "The Haunting" translates into Dutch as "Neverending Creaking Noises."

"The Haunting" is one of those films in which the characters scream out the film's meaning in times of crisis, as Lili Taylor does in the end when she squeaks like a female Chihuahua having it's first orgasm: "It's about family!" Lili plays Nell, suckered to Hill House by Dr. Marrow (Liam Neeson) along with Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Luke (Owen Wilson). Dr. Marrow fools them into thinking he's conducting an experiment on insomnia, but it's actually about fear, in this case, fear of making a good movie.

This group of characters is less than compelling. With her high voice, Taylor has all the charm of a two-year-old explaining how to replace the starter on a '76 Mustang. Owen Wilson's nose has more sharp angles than a Picasso. And Catherine Zeta-Jones is fast becoming the poster child for no-talent, nice-to-look-at actresses everywhere.

This is based on Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House." It's pathetic how easy it is to see what went wrong here: Somebody got the idea that it would be really neat to make a haunted house movie and do up the thing with tons of CGI effects. They built the set. They hired De Bont. They hired the cast. Then somebody mentioned the itty bitty problem of writing a script, a task that was immediately dumped on somebody's twelve-year-old niece. Actually, that's something of an insult to twelve-year-old girls. My bad.

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